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SF Chronicle Lauds Filthy Play as 'Raunchy, Irreverent Fun'

The song titles say it all: “It Sucks to Be Me,” “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist,” “If You Were Gay,” and “The Internet Is for Porn.”


Avenue Q, the “Sesame Street for adults” winner of the 2004 Tony Award, has just kicked off its much anticipated – or much dreaded – national tour.


Cartoons can get away with depicting things that live actors could never do.  “Avenue Q” replaces cartoons with Sesame Street-like puppets, which get busy in certain “adult” situations, and in the process drag Broadway down to the same low standards as cable TV. 


The story revolves around Princeton, a man who moves to New York City after college and finds an apartment on Avenue Q among interesting neighbors.


Rather than teaching letters or numbers, the puppets teach Princeton adult lessons about Internet porn, premarital sex, homosexuality and alcohol use.    The message coming across loud and clear is that it's all okay. 


San Francisco Chronicle theater critic Robert Hurwitt just loves it, describing the musical as "hilariously inventive," and "smart, sassy and fresh."  Hurwitt  writes, “The upliftingly outrageous, Muppets-liberated humor, graphic puppet sex and anything-goes attitudes still hit their comically shocking marks in performance no matter how many times you've heard “It Sucks to Be Me,” “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist” or “The Internet Is for Porn.””


While addressing important issues, the songs rely on vulgarity to convey their disturbing messages.


“The Internet Is for Porn” contains the line “Grab your d--- and double click” while implying all men look at porn on the Internet.   A main character drops the f-word into “It Sucks to Be Me” as neighbors debate who has the worst life.  “Everyone's a Little Bit Racist” includes the cliché of having an Asian person mixing up her r's and l's. 


“If You Were Gay,” a song not mentioned in Hurwitt's review, offers the gem “You can count on me / To always be / Beside you every day / To tell you it's okay/ You were just born/ That way / And, as they say / It's in your DNA / You're gay!” 


Live theater ought to be the crème-de-la-crème of entertainment.  One wonders why somebody would drive downtown and shell out ninety bucks to see the sort of squalid nonsense he could watch at home on cable.      


Colleen Raezler is a research assistant at the Culture and Media Institute, a division of the Media Research Center.